It’s a question we hear all the time. What’s the best CRM? So let’s take a look at three CRMs used by photographers.
First, what the heck is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager. Business owners use CRM software to track and engage with customers in multiple ways. Some of the more typical ways that CRMs can help you are;
- Sending contracts and e-signatures
- Invoicing and online payments
- Contact Forms
- Workflows and Automation
- Client Portals
- And more…
Why a CRM?
Let’s ask ourselves who needs a CRM for their business. Because, let’s be honest, only some people need a CRM. There are plenty of other tools to help do most of these things. And as a small business owner, if you can avoid unnecessary fees, that can help you grow. Unfortunately, most of these free options could be clearer and are clunky at best. But at some point, as you continue to grow, the cost can become worth it as a good CRM will help you to save time, look and BE more professional, and help you to grow and increase sales.
While there are many CRMs, We will focus on three in particular. Honeybook, 17hats, and Sprout Studio.
First, Let’s look at the price:
Honeybook – The yearly cost is $390, with a $1 promotion for six months. 17hats – Has three options to help you as your business grows. Essentials package is $150 a year, the Standard package is $300 a year, and the Premier package is $600 a year. In addition, Sprout Studio has four options, Lite, Basic, Pro, and Unlimited charging $187, $429, $539, and $759, respectively. On price alone, this makes Honeybook an appealing option.
Honeybook is the most known as its touted in many groups by photographers as the go-to CRM if you are a photographer. It’s been around for a long time and does a good job of hitting all the basic features and does it well. It looks good and is reasonably easy to use and set up. When we used it, it worked well enough for us. We were impressed with the look, ease of use, and most of the features. However, as we grew and wanted to do more, we ran into a few limiting capabilities.
17hats is what we currently use. We love the features of the unlimited package. It can do 99% of everything we have wanted from a CRM. The downside? The most expensive package; at $600 a year, that’s $210 more per year than Honeybook. So are the additional features worth the added price tag? For us, yes. For you? Maybe. It depends on what you want it to do. Here’s the thing, 17hats is set up to grow with your business. So you don’t need to start out with the $600 package. If you are in your first years of business, for only $150 a year, you can have a powerful CRM that does a lot for you. Sending contracts, e-signatures, invoices, templates, questionnaires and more, all to help streamline your workflow and business. Then as your business grows, you can increase the package to add new options. That’s less than half the price of Honeybook. AND keep reading to the bottom to find out how to save 50% off 17hats!
Sprout Studio is more of an all-in-one CRM plus. However, Sprout Studio goes beyond the CRM realm and adds client galleries, email marketing, and more. So while it is the most expensive of the three, it can save you money by not needing an additional Online gallery service such as Cloudspot or Pixieset. Of the three, Sprout Studio looks the best and is the most comprehensive option. Or should be.
Upon a deeper dive into the system, you’ll see that beauty is only skin deep with this system. When we tried to use it, yes, we TRIED to use it, it wasn’t easy to set up and lacked what we needed to fully take advantage of its features—for example, No drop ship on the client gallery. While the client can look at their online gallery and download and order prints, YOU must order them from the print shop of your choice. That’s a huge pain point for us and goes against the whole saving time thing. And that’s only one of the many issues we found.
Sprout Studio is like Tom Cruise in the Mummy, built up to be awesome but really a letdown and definitely not worth the hefty price tag it carries. Now I will say if they ever fix the issues, it could be a good CRM. But for now, we recommend skipping this one in favor of one of the other two.
So which one?
With that, we recommend 17hats. It allows you to obtain a great CRM packed with options for a growing business at only $150 a year—less than half the price of Honeybook. Then as you grow and want additional features, you can move to larger packages. Look, we know some of you are Honeybook loyalists and have planted your flag on the summit of mount Honeybook. And that is great. It’s a good CRM. But eventually, you too might find it lacking and want to make a change.
To make it even better, through January 2023, you can get 50% off an annual subscription with 17hats here.
Want to see more of our favorite tools, systems and apps? Check out our list of Top 5 Must Have Apps For Photographers!